Biographies

Search

34 results - showing results only

Jankiel Kulawiec

When there were pro-fascist moods in the last years before the war, and they showed German chronicles in the cinema about how Hitler ruled and how good they had it there, we would throw eggs or something at the screen.
See text in interview

Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

Even though I went to a German lyceum, my class teacher always used to tell me on the eve of the Jewish holidays that I could stay home on the occasion of the holiday. On Yom Kippur, Anita and I went to the synagogue for half a day and then we strolled along the city. We stopped by the show windows of confectionary stores and enjoyed looking at deserts, knowing that we couldn't eat them. The next day we weren't willing to eat them either.

When in 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany, there were no changes for us in Estonia on the whole, but since that time our teachers starting saying upon entering the classroom, 'Heil Hitler!' But I can't say that they started treating me or the other Jews differently.
See text in interview

Henrich Kurizkes

When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 [15], the local Germans that were numerous in Estonia increased their activities. Almost all Germans in Estonia were wealthy people. There were schools for German people. They didn't mix with other nationalities. When Estonian Jews heard about the persecution of Jewish people in Germany and that Jewish residents were chased away from their homes and sent to concentration camps, they were deeply concerned. This started the movement of passive protest. Jews stopped buying German food products or clothes and didn't go to German movies. In 1939, when Soviet military bases were established in Estonia [16], Hitler appealed to all Germans to move to their Motherland and many Estonian Germans left the country.

In 1939 German forces invaded Poland [17]. We obtained information about the military operations from the Finnish, German and English radio programs. There were the 'lightning' bulletins displayed in shop windows with information about the military progression. This short-term war brought grief into our family. Germans killed my mother's older sister Polina Vigura, amongst other Jews in Katovice. I know no details of this tragedy.

Soon the Soviet army liberated Poland. After he failed to invade Poland, Hitler decided to share it with Stalin. According to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact [18], the Baltic territory was under the influence of the USSR. We had no information about this pact at the time. We only heard about it after World War II. Upon execution of this pact, Estonia remained independent for about half a year, though the Soviet army invaded Estonia in 1939; but the explanation was that due to aggravation of the military situation in the world, the Soviet forces were to be based in Estonia to secure its border. The Soviet forces constituted 25,000 military, while the Estonian army amounted to 15,000 soldiers and officers.
See text in interview

jerzy pikielny

A seamstress used to come to our house sometimes. She lived somewhere near Lodz. She was German and a Baptist. She wouldn't refer to Hitler by any name other than 'the Antichrist.' She had a son, older than me, who used to come and teach me carpentry, because I had a carpenter's workbench at home, which I 'inherited' from Uncle Lolek. When the war broke out it turned out the Baptist youth organizations were part of the Hitlerjugend [16].
See text in interview

Anna Ivankovitser

I can't remember how we learned that Hitler came to power in Germany or about the 'Crystal Night' and the persecution of Jews. Perhaps it was from newspapers, because we didn't have a radio.
See text in interview

henryk prajs

Ever since 1933, when Hitler came to power [15], people grew more and more certain a war was coming. Everyone who had the chance to do so, fled to Israel [Editor's note: until 1948 Palestine]. Apart from that, the ones who fled were patriots, they wanted to build their own country, and did the right thing; emancipation is one thing, but having your country goes a long way. Many of my friends left before the war, Mojszele Rawski was one of them. At first before leaving they were Hahalutzim [16].
See text in interview

leon solowiejczyk

Later, in the late 1930s there was some fear, maybe not as visible. There were anti-Semitic articles in newspapers, there were these anti-Semitic leaflets, all kinds of various calendars, there was this witch hunt for the Jews, this 'Bij Zydow' [Polish: 'Get the Jews!'], but nobody paid much attention. Somehow you'd survive. And there was news from Germany. There they knew what Nazi ideology [15] was.
See text in interview

Alina Fiszgrund

There were some Endeks [8] in Przedecz. The shoemakers, Poles. The so-called Nationalists. But those Endeks only raised their head around 1933-34, when the Germans started going to Germany for those brainwashing courses. That was taking its toll on the whole community.
See text in interview
In the Pomerania region, the Jewish middle class was very pro-assimilation and very pro-German. Hitler's rise to power [7] came as a great shock for those people. But the interpersonal relations started deteriorating only around 1933-1934.
See text in interview

Liya Kaplan

Jews and Estonians were very friendly towards each other. In 1936 my father celebrated his 50th birthday. There were a lot of guests, including his business partners, Estonian entrepreneurs. They didn't find it shameful to come over to a Jew and congratulate him on his birthday.

When in 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany [14], the spirit of hatred towards Jews started penetrating Estonia. All of us felt the anti-Semitism. At that time we didn't understand the scale of it. There were short articles in the press, without details and comments. We learned about those events from the radio and papers, but no details were provided. We had wirelesses and could listen to any radio station of the world. Thus, we found out about the atrocities the fascists in Germany were committing and about the concentration camps.

Then fugitives from Germany showed up. There weren't very many of them. It must have been hard to escape. Once, somebody rang on the door and I opened it. There was a Jewish fugitive on the threshold. Half of his beard was torn. My mother let him in and gave him food and clothes. Then he was taken care of by the Jewish community.
See text in interview

Gizela Fudem

I remember news about the changing situation in Germany, when Hitler was coming to power [9]. They used to even say that a year before the war they started throwing Jews of Polish descent out of Germany [10]. Those who had once emigrated from Poland, either themselves or their ancestors. And it was this big operation, they were evicted, and sent away, and it happened at times that on the border entire transports were stopped. They had to be received and placed.

Out of such a transport I had a friend for some time. She didn't speak Polish and she was so unhappy. I don't remember who recommended her to me, but I decided to teach her Polish. I remember she couldn't understand why we need seven cases if she's got four and she can say everything. Her name was Hania Sznur. I remember that others from those transports were going from one house to another and kids were making fun of them, because they spoke in broken Polish. One would say: 'Jestem biedna emigranta' [broken Polish for: 'I'm a poor emigrant']. Of other international affairs I remember there were talks about Anschluss [11] and about the dangers of fascism.
See text in interview

Amalia Blank

In 1939 Hitler attacked Poland [18]. I was horrified. In contrast to Soviet people, who had no idea what fascism was, I saw what it was and ran away from it. And again there was another danger. I calmed down, thinking that the war would not last long. Hitler’s troops were defeated by Soviet troops, commissioned in Poland. After that the governments of both countries signed a non-aggression treaty [Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact] [19], and part of Poland was annexed to the Soviet Union. Lvov was also annexed. There was a wonderful Jewish theater there. It was decided to merge the Dnepropetrovsk and Lvov Jewish theater and our theater moved to Lvov. My husband and I happened to be in that splendid old city.
See text in interview

Jozef Hen

A lot was written about Hitler before the war. I remember the atmosphere before he came to power [30] and the fears after he was successful. Then there was the June coup, when Hitler murdered Roem and his other comrades from SA. We were living on the third floor and someone in the backyard was shouting, 'Hitler has been assassinated!', because everything was at first interpreted the other way round.
See text in interview

Leopold Sokolowski

Right at that time, two to three months after I started work, Zbaszyn [4] came up; Hitler got rid of several thousand Jews, some of whom were sent around Poland, and some of whom ended up in Cracow. Most of those people belonged to the Jewish intelligentsia, whom the language barrier did not allow to undertake proper work. The Jewish Economic Council held workshops at Koletek Street. They taught manufacturing leather goods: wallets, billfolds, pocketbooks; later they did saddles, harnesses. They gave driving lessons, so these people could find jobs in a short time. I was very poorly paid over there. I carried messages. Say, some Jew reported he needed five workers: they had to be found at their addresses and I delivered those messages.
See text in interview

Ester Khanson

All those good things lasted for several years. Our life was calm and joyful. I had my first suitors, my brother’s pals from the lyceum. Then, in the early 1930s, fascists started seeking power in Germany. I was far from politics, but I remember that my parents first took it calmly, but once we were walking in the street not far from our house, and there were two demonstrations: Nazis on the one side of the street and communists on the other. They were in columns. Each of them was walking on one side of the street and they met. What a horror! Mother and I witnessed this mêlée. I do not remember how we got home. Both of us were crying from horror.

Then such street frays became common. Gradually the atmosphere became tenser and it was very calm in the city. I was afraid to go out, talked my parents into returning to Estonia. Mother was ready to go back, but she did not want to live in Tartu. We decided to settle in Tallinn. Father was the first to leave Berlin to find lodging in Tallinn. As soon as he found a place to live, we came back to Estonia.
See text in interview
  • Loading ...